Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe

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Overview

In recent years scholars have begun to acknowledge that the occult sciences were not marginal enterprises but an integral part of the worldview of many of our ancestors. Astrology was one of the many intellectual tools--along with what we consider to be the superior tools of social and political analysis--that
Renaissance thinkers used to attack practical and intellectual problems. It was a coherent body of practices, strongly supported by social institutions. And alchemy was not viewed primarily as a spiritual pursuit, an idea popularized by nineteenth-century occultists, but as a part of natural philosophy. It was often compared to medicine.Many Renaissance writers suggested links between astrology and alchemy that went beyond the use of astrological charts to determine the best time to attempt alchemical operations. Secrets of Nature shows the many ways in which astrology (a form of divination) and alchemy (an artisanal pursuit concerned with the technologies of minerals and metals) diverge as well as intersect. Overall, it shows how an appreciation of the role of the occult opens up new ways of understanding the past. Topics include the career of Renaissance astrologer Girolamo
Cardano and his work on medical astrology, the astrological thinking of Johannes
Kepler and Galileo Galilei, the history of the Rosicrucians and the influence of
John Dee, the work of medical alchemist Simon Forman, and an extended critique of the existing historiography of alchemy.

The MIT Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is an excellent volume, and one that will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone interested in the histories of alchemy and/or astrology and a necessary one to anyone working on Early Modern science." Daryn Lehoux Canadian
Bulletin of Medical History

The MIT Press

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Product Details

Meet the Author

William R. Newman is Ruth Halls Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at
Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the coeditor of Secrets of
Nature
(MIT Press, 1999) and author or editor of several other books

Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton
University.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The Problematic Status of Astrology and Alchemy in Premodern Europe 1
2 "Veritatis amor dulcissimus": Aspects of Cardano's Astrology 39
3 Between the Election and My Hopes: Girolamo Cardano and Medical Astrology 69
4 Celestial Offerings: Astrological Motifs in the Dedicatory Letters of Kepler's Astronomia Nova and Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius 133
5 Astronomia inferior: Legacies of Johannes Trithemius and John Dee 173
6 The Rosicrucian Hoax in France (1623-24) 235
7 "The Food of Angels": Simon Forman's Alchemical Medicine 345
8 Some Problems with the Historiography of Alchemy 385
Contributors 433
Index 435
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2006

    Good and interesting book

    In his earlier book on Cardan, Grafton proved that he is one of those writers who really understands astrology and really does have a passion for researching its history. This is a great glimpse into the minds of astrologers of the past.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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